Restore, Don't Replace!
That's the message from issue 3's front cover interviewee Richie Anderson of Independent Restoration..

The patience to run an Independent Business – Richie Armstrong, Independent Restoration

Richie Armstrong runs Independent Restoration, and its sister company IR Cleaning Services, both based in Low Prudhoe.

Between the two companies, Richie and his team restore commercial and domestic properties that have been damaged by fire or flood and work with leading loss adjusters and insurance firms.

We chatted to Richie about his businesses, what he’s learned and his plans for the future.

PB: What does Independent Restoration do? RA: We specialise in resorting commercial and domestic properties damaged by fire and flood. I’ve been in the industry myself for over 25 years and wanted to create my own business. It can be a distressing time for people whose homes have been damaged, often significantly, and we want to make the recovery process as easy as possible for them.

PB: And how does IR Cleaning Services fit in? RA: The service we provide within fire and flood restoration includes large elements of cleaning – restoring carpets, upholstery, flooring and household items. So, because we have a team of trained and experienced technicians, it enabled us to expand the business specifically around cleaning and particularly to residential properties.

PB: Tell us about the team. RA: Our cleaning team is David, who is a senior technician, Leanne, Jake, who is also my son, and our latest recruit Zak. Jill manages the office and makes sure everyone is where they should be at the right time.

PB: How do the services you offer differ from a resident cleaning their own property? RA: When it comes to fire and flood, often the damage is just too severe for people to clean up themselves and, in commercial properties, it could be very expensive and sometimes even dangerous trying to handle it yourself. We use commercial equipment that allows us to do a thorough job a lot quicker than a company’s own cleaning team and we also work closely with claimants, insurers and loss adjusters, which takes a lot of pressure off the property owners themselves.

In residential properties, some customers just don’t have the time or inclination to clean the way that we do. Sometimes carpets, sofas, mattresses etc have just become dirty over time and need a professional touch to bring them back to life. You’d be surprised how many times we’ve saved customers’ possessions from being thrown out because household cleaning methods haven’t worked.

There are also things we do that most commercial and residential property owners couldn’t do themselves, like leak detection, odour control and ozone treatment, sanitation and fogging treatment. Fire and water restoration services are highly specialised themselves.

PB: What about outdoor cleaning? RA: We can also clean patios, paths, driveways, and decking too, so our customers’ homes look good inside and out. Our cleaning and restoration services leave outdoor property features looking good and in great condition, protecting investments and often adding value to properties that are being prepared to be sold.

PB: What’s been your most challenging restoration job? RA: During the early months of Covid, we were asked by one of our clients to attend a large detached Georgian house in the Lake District that had suffered considerable fire and smoke damage. The cause of the fire was from discarded BBQ cinders igniting in a plastic wheelie bin, which then set fire to the car port, garage and main house. Internal and external cleaning was successful to most areas and items, and we calculated that the saving of restoration against replacement was in the region of £250,000. Also, the benefits to the environment for retaining and restoring items as opposed to throwing into landfill were huge.

PB: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned while running your own business? RA: Patience – I tend to want things done yesterday, but taking a step back and listening to the needs and requirements of all parties saves time and energy at a later stage.

PB: What does the future look like for Independent Restoration and IR Cleaning Services? RA: We are feeling very positive and are lucky to have great staff who enjoy their work. Due to the cost of living increasing at home and in business we’re busier than ever, as people are choosing to restore and retain rather than dispose and replace. I’ve said, the benefits to the environment are significant, so my message is ‘restore, don’t replace’.

“The thing I've learned the most is patience – I tend to want things done yesterday, but taking a step back and listening to the needs and requirements of all parties saves time and energy at a later stage.”